AAAE praises new biometric security legislation

The American Association of Airport Executives voiced encouragement over the call for a cooperative industry/government approach to studying the deployment of biometrics in airports that was detailed in legislation — H.R. 5982 — introduced last week by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).

"As public entities with more than three decades of experience operating badging and access control systems at their facilities, airports look forward to playing a key role in ongoing efforts to utilize biometric-based solutions as a means of enhancing aviation security," AAAE President Charles Barclay said. "The legislation Chairman Thompson has introduced opens the door to a coordinated approach between the federal government and industry, and airports look forward to playing an important leadership role in ensuring that future biometric-based badging and access control systems are deployed as quickly and efficiently as possible — goals that can be met if we build on existing expertise and infrastructure at airports."

AAAE and airport representatives from around the country are pursuing the voluntary deployment of biometrics throughout their facilities. Through an effort known as the Biometric Airport Security Identification Consortium (BASIC), airports have developed a detailed step-by-step plan, or Concept of Operations, that outlines how airports would migrate to biometric-based badging and access control systems. The BASIC Concept of Operations defines the biometric components and common business processes that need to be added to airports' existing procedures to enable biometric-based badge and access control systems in a reasonable and cost-effective timeframe.

Key airports across the country — including Portland, Ore.; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Denver; San Francisco; the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority; the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; Jacksonville; Miami; San Diego; and Phoenix — are involved with the BASIC effort.

Barclay said that AAAE would seek to work closely with the House Homeland Security Committee and Congress to pursue an approach to deploying biometrics that safeguards local control and issuance of credentials, leverages existing capital investments and resources, establishes open architecture and local determination of qualified vendors, and provides a phased implementation that migrates over time.

"We appreciate the continued leadership Chairman Thompson and members of the Homeland Security Committee have shown in drafting this legislation and encouraging the deployment of biometrics at airports," Barclay said. "We remain convinced that the best approach moving forward is to maintain local control backed by federal standards, federal oversight, and federal resources, and we look forward to working with Congress to achieve our shared goals in this area."

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